Fear of crosswinds

Alibran Posts: 370
edited April 2008 in Road beginners
I got my first road bike 2 weeks ago, and I'm loving it. I've ridden it most days since I picked it up, have commuted to work on it a few times, and am finding it very hard to be separated from it at all! I used to ride a hybrid, which was much heavier and had a fairly upright position, and which I commuted on. I've found the road bike is making my 10 mile (each way) commute much quicker for a lot less effort.

The day I picked it up, I went out in winds that were forecast up to 55mph gusts, and came back with a stupid grin on my face. It was exhilarating and a bit scary, but I'd expected it to be after the things I'd read. I got on with riding it every day, and was amazed at how quickly I got used to it.

Last Monday, I cycled to work for the first time, got hit by a crosswind doing around 30mph on the A30 and nearly came off. I slowed down, took it a bit more carefully, and didn't think much more of it. A few less windy days later, and yesterday the wind picked up again. Last night, I started to get quite scared on the way home from work, and today was even worse.

I'm OK when the wind hits me and the bike, and makes the bike and me drift (or veer) across the road. I'm used to that from my hybrid. What really scares me is when it catches the front wheel, and the bike starts to swerve out from under me. I try to correct it, inevitably overcompensate, and start swerving the other way. That's what happened last Monday, and I don't know how I got it back under control

Is this normal with road bikes, and is there anything I can do to lessen it?

I'm getting tense in the wind now, and I know that isn't helping. If there's a bit of a barrier between me and the wind, I try to get as low as possible, but that doesn't help the problem of the wind catching the front wheel if I go past a gateway, and I find I have less control on the drops. I've tried holding the bars lightly and gripping them firmly, but it doesn't seem to make any difference.

I'm supposed to be riding to work tomorrow, but now I'm starting to look at the weather forecast and wondering if I should take the hybrid or (even worse) the car.


  • heavymental
    heavymental Posts: 2,076
    Wind is a bstard but shouldn't mean you should have to resort to the car. I think you'll just have to get used to riding the road bike after coming from the hybrid. The wind would have to be very strong to actually take the bike out from under you so its just a psychological thing really. Relax, anticipate that you'll get hit by a gust coming past gateways and such and just get used to it. Don't fight it. If its going to push you over by a foot or so, let it. If you try and brace against it or whatever you'll end up veering all over the shop. Sounds like you've already been out in the wind and coped ok but its just one of those things that has started to niggle at the back of your mind.
  • heavymental
    heavymental Posts: 2,076
    Sorry, just re read your post. You seen to suggest there's a difference between how the wind affects the hybrid and the road bike. I'd say it would be the same but just might feel slightly different. If you get caught by the wind it won't just hit your front wheel so there shouldn't be a difference.
  • roger_merriman
    roger_merriman Posts: 6,165
    with a road bike, you do have more of your weight forward, in a postion that is more twichy this said you can get out of the wind more with drops, i hate wind on my hybrid as it makes the journey much harder work, while the old 10 speed racer i have is better at cutting though the wind.
  • el_presidente
    el_presidente Posts: 1,963
    Like most things, you can improve with training.

    Get a set of rollers. Now get an industrial size fan pointing 90 degrees to the rollers.

    Once you are happy riding the rollers with a constant cross wind get your other half to turn it on & off at random.

    Once you're happy with random winds do it with headphones & a blindfold so you can cope using feel alone.

    Problem sorted
  • andy_wrx
    andy_wrx Posts: 3,396
    I like el presidente's idea, but think I'll pass myself.

    Perhaps it could be developed further with a hosepipe, connected to the cold tap and directed straight into your face to simulate riding into a headwind in the rain.
    Or directed at your legs and groin and turned on and off randomly to simulate cars going by and drenching you from puddles.

    More seriously, it's probably worse on the roadbike than the hybrid because the steering's probably more sensitive. The drop bars are far narrower than on a hybrid or MTB and you probably steer it more by weight-shift/leaning than by actually turning the bars.
    Aero-section rims are worse than plain ones, so if your roadbike has sexy-looking wheels they'll maybe be catching the wind more.

    You will get used to it, you're aware that it can suddenly hit you when you pop out from behind a hedge or wall, so you do learn to anticipate it and just absorb it.
  • feel
    feel Posts: 800
    Gusting winds are scary and they can be dangerous. You are sensible to be cautious and keep an eye on weather forecasts particularly if you have an exposed route. Personally i would keep your speed down where there is an obvious danger of gusting wind as at speed your sideways position on the road can change very quickly not giving any following traffic much time to adjust, particularly if they weren't going to allow you much room in any case :roll: .

    Having said that i reckon the last couple of weeks have been exceptionally windy and i would not be surprised if it was a long time til you again experienced such consistently windy weather (fingers crossed)
    We are born with the dead:
    See, they return, and bring us with them.
  • Tootler
    Tootler Posts: 53
    Putting it simply theres not a lot you can do about it.

    Crosswinds are evil b@stards and depending on the speed you are going can throw you across to the other side of the road.
    This is made worse if you have bladed spokes - there is quite a difference between a norrmal round spoke with a standard rim compared with bladed spokes and aero rims. What wheels have you got? - it might be worth considering getting a different front wheel. You will notice a significant difference between the bladed/aero and a 'standard' wheel.
    And with crosswinds it doesnt make a blind bit of difference if you are tucked in or sat upright as your cross sectional area is roughly the same - not like if you are in a headwind, when being tucked will make quite a difference.
    The weight of the bike makes a difference too - you will notice crosswind effects more if you are on a lighter bike.

    Just take more care and try to anticpate the effects of gates etc.
  • Lagavulin
    Lagavulin Posts: 1,688
    I hate the wind with a passion. When it's constant I think you can deal with that but gusting winds, epsecially crosswinds are evil. I'd rather get soaked than be out in heavy or even moderate winds.

    I went for a 30 odd mile spin on Friday and the winds from the west were ridiculous. I was blown into the middle of the carriageway on a couple of ocassions. I had to keep checking behind me as the wind was so bad I couldn't hear approaching traffic.
    Thankfully the drivers of the lorries from the local quarry and the bus drivers were quite good, tending to stay behind me when approaching roundabouts and junctions than overtake.

    I find my current roadbike (a 2006 Allez Sport which I believe weighs in at over 10.5kgs) to be a handful, particularly when I have my 30mm rims in (I'd hate to think what a disc wheel is like). I'm a little concerned what how twitchy the significantly lighter carbon fibre bike I've just ordered will be like.
  • OnTow
    OnTow Posts: 130
    As mentioned above, Aero (mid/deep section) rims and aero spokes can be affected more - If your new bike has these, perhaps - assuming your old bike has more normal looking wheels that are the same diameter - try putting your old front wheel on the new road bike.
  • pjh
    pjh Posts: 204
    I know how you feel Alibran!

    I ride a carbon Bianchi C2C and it's pretty light . I've had a few crosswinds that felt like they were going to knock the bike out from underneath me, which is very scary when it catches you unawares!

    As has been said you just need to watch out for gaps in fences/hedges/walls etc and you should be OK. Best just to relax if you can :wink:

    It's great to be .....